Solar Tales of M-POWERment: Meet the Garcias


The Mazzetti-GRID Alternatives partnership has been a powerful match since 2014. GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit providing accessible renewable energy to communities worldwide, has been locally focused on installing solar panels in low income communities, reducing utility costs. In addition to the energy cost-savings, financially empowering households, GRID provides real-life training for those interested in solar installations (who may not have had the opportunities to realize their aspirations).

Earlier this month, a group of eight Mazzetti employees were proud to energize a 2.1 kW photovoltaic system on the roof of the Garcia household in Richmond, CA. Continue reading to discover the full story, in the words of our Senior Electrical Designer Hugh Daniel.

Hitting Close to Home

When I heard about the latest build for Grid Alternatives I immediately got excited.  This would be my second solar build experience with GRID, and I had an absolute blast the first time around!  When I heard about the location of the build, my excitement tripled having lived in this area of Richmond for a number of my childhood years.  I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to contribute some much needed positive energy (literally) to the neighborhood.

Solar-panels-roofReady, Set, INSTALL!

We began the day at 8AM with a safety brief, a critical element to installing roof-mounted systems. After our safety lesson, we got right to work with half of the crew starting on the roof and the other half working on the ground.  The ground team focused on measuring and cutting the conduit, while the roof team laid out the dimensions for the solar panels on the roof. Using the measurements from the roof, the ground team then cut and assembled the rails for the panels and carefully passed them to the roof.  While the roof team installed the footing, rails and panels, the ground team installed the conduit and meter.  We finished by pulling wire through the conduit from the panels to the meter and terminated the wire connections.

This relatively small installation consisted of eight solar panels on the south-facing portion of the roof. The pace was rapid yet efficient–our Mazzetti team made record timing by installing the rails and panels before lunch time!

Sitting Down with the Family

For lunch, the Garcia family graciously invited us into their home in which they have lived for 12 years. Marcella Garcia lives here with her 12-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter. The family made us an amazing meal of braised beef tacos with fresh corn tortillas, rice, limes, and a special homemade spicy hot sauce. A friend of the family came over to serve us the home-cooked meal while Marcella was away at her soccer match.

Upon entering the home, I immediately noticed sports medals that glittered in the hallways. I quickly gathered that the Garcias are very active, with Marcella leading by example in her involvement with soccer and volleyball teams.

After we ate, Marcella’s teenage son was curious to see the work we were doing on the roof. He was able to climb the ladder to peek over the edge of the roof and see the new panels Mazzetti volunteers had installed. We were happy that Omar was interested in the program and explained to him the impact that the roof panels would have on his home.

roof-closeA Strong Finish

The rest of the afternoon’s agenda consisted of installing conduit, pulling wire, and finishing the meter wiring. By 2:30pm, the team had completely finished the installation. Collectively, we were satisfied in knowing that we were able to complete the build, start to finish, in less than a full day’s work!

Mazzetti volunteers included: Austin Barolin, Zach Thomas, Courtney Richardson, Scott Wallace, Kyle Stangland, Eric Dupuis, Thomas Kelly, and myself. Zach and I were the veteran volunteers of the group, happy to lend helping hands again.

The GRID Alternatives staff (Daniel, Ashley, and Richard) was an absolute pleasure to work with. They were all very professional, knowledgeable and safety-minded when it came to the associated hazards. As an added bonus: They kept the group motivated with their comedic relief!

We caught up with GRID post-install—we learned that the system installed is on track to save the Garcia Family $20,000 worth of utilities over its lifecycle! And, the Garcia’s 2.2 kilowatt solar system will prevent 42 TONS of carbon emissions, the equivalent of planting 970 trees!



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